According to Jenna Macciochi, Ph.D., an immunologist who specializes in understanding the connection between lifestyle and immune function, vegetable oil tends to be high in omega-6 fatty acids. “These are the raw materials for our cells to make inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins,” she explains.

Macciochi notes that regular consumption of omega-6 fatty acids could theoretically increase inflammation3, which could contribute to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

However, she also points to research in humans4, which suggests that this is not always necessarily the case. “This tells us that data from mechanistic studies doesn’t always translate to the complex system of a human,” says Macciochi. “It also shows that context is important. Omega-6 intake in a person who is eating a healthy diet with plentiful omega-3s doesn’t seem to be a major issue.”

To break this down and keep things short and sweet: if you’re following a balanced diet and eating plenty of foods rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, consuming vegetable oil from time to time is probably just fine.

On the other hand, loading up on omega-6 fatty acids without balancing them out with other healthy fats in your diet could increase inflammation.

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